Sometimes, even HTML is just too hard.
In this postmodern world, we're all professionally fragmented jacks of all trades, and few of us have the patience (read: OCD) for learning enough CSS and Flash to allow us to keep up with the Jonses in terms of functional, sexy web design. Here are some cheat sheets, the Cliff Notes of site creation, if you will. Read on to discover four awesome, in-browser resources for creating your own beautiful corner of the web without the horror of code.
Edicy: Sites in Seconds
Edicy is a resource we just found out about recently. The in-browser site creation and editing service gives users a simple toolbar for text, video, and images and a lower dashboard for changing page design. Users can insert tables and Google-powered maps, and the drag-and-drop image features for creating multiple galleries was awesome for achieving a visually pleasing page and would probably be great for portfolios or family websites. The blog feature was so-so; we don't really see Edicy as a competitor when it comes to the CMS game, though. Still, we created this page in about 15 minutes, making Edicy one of the fastest tools we've worked with.
YourOwn.com: Edicy offers free vanity.edicy.com domains and publishing to any domain the user chooses for about $8.50 a month.
Choose Your Own Coding Adventure: Users can only pop the hood, so to speak, on HTML for sections of text. We couldn't find a way to, for example, change the color scheme or background image or page formatting.
SEO-riffic: Edicy lets users add keywords and descriptions, but not other metadata or tags for images or other media.
Zimplit: Fully Simple, Fully Editable
Zimplit is a resource we reviewed some time ago, but we feel it's perfect for this particular round-up. We were able to create a simple, elegant page within about a half hour. It's an open-source, dead-simple application that works just as well for code-free "dummies" as well as it does for those with an inkling or two about web design on the back end. For non-coders, a gallery of great design templates kick things off, and a simple 12-button toolbar does it all after that.
YourOwn.com: Vanity URLs on Zimplit.com are available, and regular domains (plus email addresses) are available starting at around $4.25 per month.
Choose Your Own Coding Adventure: Users have complete access HTML and CSS for their pages, making this a great resource for learning as you go.
SEO-riffic: Sorry, Charlie. You'll have to access the code to tweak your metadata and keywords.
Wix: Flash Sites for Flashy Folks
We're not going to lie: Creating a Flash site in Wix will take you a little more time. But for those who desire that Flash-y touch, this is one of the best free resources you'll find. This editor will present tools familiar to those familiar with other graphic design programs such as image editing or more GUI-oriented website editing programs. The effects, behaviors, animations, and other options offer complete control. Also, we adore the horde of multimedia gallery options. You've got slide shows, Apple-like sliders, and tidy matrices. But to be honest and fair, Wix is just as strangely buggy as any Flash service you've tried to use.
YourOwn.com: There's a whole slew of premium options. Users can elect to choose their own domains for as little as $4.95 a month. An ad-free site, however, costs a dollar a month more.
Choose Your Own Coding Adventure: We couldn't see any back end here, folks. But with all the design options available through the Wix interface, we're not sure you'll need much more.
SEO-riffic: "SEO Friendly" options start at $4.95 a month.
Amplifeeder: A Catchall for the NMDs Among Us
Another site we've reviewed before is Amplifeeder. What users create there may not qualify as full-on websites, but for those who are hip, Amplifeeder creates sites that are the living end in terms of social media aggregation. Really, we all create so much content across our various networks that a personal site can be static and even redundant. Amplifeeder uses great design templates to bring together blog posts, Twitter and Facebook updates, Flickr pics, YouTube videos, and any number of other social media happenings. The page we created is beyond cool and serves as a gorgeous, clean portal to all the places we really live online. Plus, the data you put here is all portable, backup-able, and restorable.
YourOwn.com: Hosting options are coming soon, according to site creator Jon Davies.
Choose Your Own Coding Adventure: Customize your heart out with a blank CSS slate.
SEO-riffic: This part's all up to you. Your SEO will be the moment of truth: What DO you really talk about and share most? Transparency meets SEO when Amplifeeder serves an aggregation of your social streams.
So there you have four great resources for website creation, from super simple to creatively complex. Now get out there and start souping up your web presence. We just made keeping up with the Joneses that much more competitive.